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Bringing more women into governments everywhere The Elect More Women conference hopes to inspire more women to run in elections

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By: Jenna Getty

As the city ramps up for another election in the coming year, local advocacy groups have begun working together to get more women in governance.

The Elect More Women Conference took place Oct. 21 at Hamilton’s city hall. The conference hopes to see more women in politics and ultimately work to build election teams.

“The most important thing about this conference is to drive home that women are capable, effective leaders with experience to bring to the table and government should reflect the diversity they serve,” said Daniela Giuletti, one of the coordinators of the conference.

The central aim of the conference is to provide women with the confidence to take the next steps, whatever that means for each individual. Whether that means leading a canvassing party, or putting their name forward as a candidate, Giulietti says it doesn’t matter, as long as women feel empowered and supported as they leave the conference.

This is not a question of skill, the skills are obviously there, they are just not being utilized and appreciated in government and politics.

The lack of representation of women in politics is reflected here at McMaster. Of the four positions on the board of directors in the McMaster Students Union, only one is held by a woman, and of the other nine positions on the executive board, only three are filled by women. 

According to Giulietti, the lack of female representation in any level of government boils down to risk. Women risk a lot when running in politics, socially, professionally and emotionally. With this in mind, the idea supports the fact that while minorities are often underrepresented in politics, they are often heading community work and other initiatives behind the scenes. This is not a question of skill, the skills are obviously there, they are just not being utilized and appreciated in government and politics.

There are, however, opportunities for women at McMaster to get involved with Hamilton politics. Opting to participate in volunteer opportunities that offer important skill development, sitting in on Council Night at City Hall, speaking with student government, speaking with campaign offices or even getting involved with a campaign if you have customer service experience. These opportunities are available to anyone, you just need to know where to look for them.

The lack of representation of women in politics is reflected here at McMaster. Of the four positions on the board of directors in the McMaster Students Union, only one is held by a woman, and of the other nine positions on the executive board, only three are filled by women.

Guiletti argues lack of representation isn’t just the responsibility of women. To work towards fixing the issue, it must be tackled by the community, not just left to women to fix for themselves. Giulietti recommends student governments taking a look at their own campaign, and reevaluating whether or not it’s accessible to those who are usually underrepresented, as well as working to invite more women and diversity to their teams.

Karen Bird, a political science professor at McMaster, has previously stated that voters are not biased against women running for positions, and instead the issue being that women are not given the chance to run. Bird recommends that electoral parties shoulder-tap women to run.

Canada, Hamilton and McMaster has a ways to go before we have equal representation in politics, and women still have barriers to overcome.

“We have incredibly capable women in office, and thankfully so many supportive men allies. We also have men who think it’s okay to call women in sciences ‘Climate Barbie’,” Giulietti said. “So the most incredible barrier to me, is that despite all of our gains, we still have this crap to contend with.”

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